In India, a woman is fatally gang-raped on a city bus. In Afghanistan, a small girl is used as payment for heating fuel. Recent stories have brought into sharp relief the failure to give women and girls equal protection under the law.
"Women continue to be subjected to violence, bride sale and denied their rights as widows. Girls are given away as debt settlement or crime compensation," says IDLO Director-General Irene Khan .
"Meanwhile, whether we like it or not, most legal disputes in developing countries end up being resolved outside the courts. Informal justice systems are here to stay. So wherever these systems are receptive to change, and not inherently unjust, we should make them work for women instead of against them."
This critical IDLO study highlights the role of the law as an essential tool for advancing women's rights and equality in the face of illiteracy and inadequate resources. Focusing on engagement strategies in both the formal and informal justice sectors, IDLO's study analyzes what works, what doesn't, and why. It deals with unwed motherhood in Morocco, women's land rights in Mozambique and Tanzania, human trafficking across the India-Bangladesh border and dispute resolution in Afghanistan. The report also addresses the challenges women face in Namibia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands.
Most significantly, Accessing Justice demonstrates how legal empowerment strategies involving cooperation from victims, paralegals, community organizations, lawyers, police, and the judiciary can improve access to justice and the quality of justice women receive.
The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) enables governments and empowers people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity. IDLO works along the spectrum from nation and peacebuilding to economic recovery in countries emerging from conflict or striving towards democracy. It supports emerging economies and middle-income countries to strengthen their legal capacity and rule of law framework for sustainable development and economic opportunity.
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